Criminal Punishment

. hanzai 犯罪 crime and punishment - Glossary .

Criminal Punishment in Edo
Strafe, Bestrafung, Gericht - Todesstrafe in Edo

gokei 五刑 five judicial penalties
keibatsu 刑罰 punishment
keijoo, keijō 刑場 execution ground
Kodenma-choo, Kodenma-chō 小伝馬町 Kodenma-cho prison in Edo
rooya 牢屋 Roya, prison, jail / rooyashiki 牢屋敷 prison compound
shokei 処刑 execution

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. Kodenmachō 小伝馬町 Kodenmacho .
Denma-chō Rōyashiki 伝馬町牢屋敷 Denma-chō Prison

under construction

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During the Edo period,
Japan used various punishments against criminals. These can be categorized as follows:

Death penalty
Incarceration and Exile
Penal labor
Confiscation of property
Corporal punishment

Death penalty
Serious crimes such as murder and arson were punished by death. The shogunate maintained execution grounds for Edo at Kozukappara, Suzugamori, and Itabashi.
Kozukappara, also known as Kotsukappara or Kozukahara, is currently located near the southwest exit of Tokyo's Minami-Senju Station. It is estimated that between 100,000 and 200,000 people were executed here. Only part of the site remains, located next to Emmeiji temple, partly buried under the rail tracks and under a more-recent burial ground. Archaeological and morphological research was done by Tokyo University on the skulls found buried here which confirmed the execution methods. Another notable one was located at Suzugamori in Shinagawa. Both sites are still sparsely commemorated in situ with memorial plaques and tombstones.

The shogunate executed criminals in various ways:
Crucifixion for killing a parent, husband etc.
Decapitation by sword
Waist-cutting (cutting the person in half). The Kanazawa han coupled this with decapitation.

The death penalty often carried collateral punishments. One was parading the criminal around town prior to execution. A similar one was public display of the criminal prior to execution. A third was public display of the severed head.

Samurai were often sentenced to commit seppuku in lieu of these forms of punishment. Seppuku is a term of suicide for the samurai.

Incarceration and exile
Depending on the severity of the crime, magistrates could sentence convicts to incarceration in various forms:

- Exile to an island. Criminals in Edo were often confined on Hachijōjima or Miyakejima. Criminals so punished received tattoos.
- Imprisonment. The government of Edo maintained a jail at Kodenma-chō.
- Exclusion from the location of the crime was a penalty for both commoners and samurai.
- Tokoro-barai, banishment to a certain distance, was common for non-samurai.
- Kōfu kinban, assignment to the post of Kōfu in the mountains west of Edo, is an example of rustication of samurai.

Penal labor
For crimes requiring moderate punishment, convicts could be sent to work at labor camps such as the one on Ishikawa-jima in Edo Bay. More serious acts could result in being sent to work in the gold mine on the island of Sado. In 1590, Hideyoshi had banned "unfree labor" or slavery; but forms of contract and indentured labor persisted alongside the period penal codes' forced labor. For example, the Edo period penal laws prescribed "non-free labor" for the immediate family of executed criminals in Article 17 of the Gotōke reijō (Tokugawa House Laws), but the practice never became common. The 1711 Gotōke reijō was compiled from over 600 statutes promulgated between 1597 and 1696.

It was also common for female convicts to be sentenced to serve terms working as slaves and prostitutes in walled Red Light Districts, most notably Yoshiwara.

A penalty that targeted merchants especially was kesshō, the confiscation of a business.

Corporal punishment
Handcuffing allowed the government to punish a criminal while he was under house arrest. Depending on the severity of the crime, the sentence might last 30, 50, or 100 days.

Flagellation was a common penalty for crimes such as theft and fighting. Amputation of the nose or ears replaced flogging as penalty early in the Edo period. The 8th Shogun of Edo, Tokugawa Yoshimune introduced judicial Flogging Penalty, or tataki, in 1720. A convicted criminal could be sentenced to a maximum of 100 lashes. Samurai and priests were exempt from flogging, and the penalty was applied only to commoners. The convict was stripped of all outer clothing and struck about the buttocks and back. The flogging penalty was used until 1867, though it fell out of favor from 1747 to 1795 intermittently. Both men and women could be sentenced to a flogging, though during one segment of the mid-Edo period, women were imprisoned rather than flogged.

Origin of flogging penalty
In 757 A.D., the Chinese-influenced Yoro Ritsuryo (養老律令) legal system was enacted and introduced Five Judicial Penalties (五刑). Two of the Five Judicial Penalties involved Flogging. Light Flogging provided for 10 to 50 lashes, while Heavy Flogging stipulated 60 to 100 strokes. However, a slave could be sentenced to up a maximum of 200 lashes. These flogging penalties only applied to male commoners. Convicts of the nobility, along with female commoners, might be sentenced to the imposition of handcuffs or a fine. When a convicted criminal was flogged, half the number of lashes were typically applied to the back, half to the buttocks. At times, if the convict's request to change the lash target was sanctioned then the lashes would be applied only to the back or to the buttocks. By the Age of Warring States, flogging had been largely replaced by decapitation.
- source : wikipedia

source : plaza.rakuten.co.jp/candy112114

槍で突く刑罰 death by piercing with a spear


Itabashi keijō 板橋刑場 Itabashi execution grounds
... one of the three sites in the vicinity of Edo where the Tokugawa shogunate executed criminals in the Edo period. Located near Itabashi-shuku, the first postal station from Edo on the Nakasendō, it is within the city limits of modern-day Itabashi, Tokyo near JR Itabashi Station.
In 1868,
Kondo Isami, leader of the Shinsengumi, was jailed for twenty days at Itabashi, and beheaded at the execution grounds. A memorial to him stands at the east (Takino-gawa) exit of Itabashi Station. On the right side are engraved the names of forty Shinsengumi people who died in war, and on the left, the names of 64 who died of disease, seppuku, or other causes. To the left of the memorial is a Buddha statue dedicated to people who died without relatives to care for their graves, and to the right, the graves of Kondō and Nagakura Shinpachi, who is said to have erected the memorial. There is also a stone for Hijikata Toshizō, who died in battle at Goryōkaku.
- source : wikipedia -


Kozukappara keijō 小塚原刑場 Kozukappara execution grounds
The Kozukappara execution grounds were one of the three sites in the vicinity of Edo (the forerunner of present-day Tokyo, Japan) where the Tokugawa shogunate executed criminals in the Edo period.
Alternate romanized spellings are Kozukahara and Kotsukappara.

kubikiri Jizoo 首切り地蔵 Jiso Bosatsu to help the beheaded

The site is located in modern Minami Senju, Arakawa, Tokyo, a three-minute walk away from Minami-Senju Station. Located next to Enmeiji Temple, a large part of the grounds are now covered by railway tracks.

It is estimated that between 100,000 and 200,000 people were executed here.[citation needed] Those executed include Hashimoto Sanai and Yoshida Shōin, who were executed as a result of the Ansei Purge.

Sugita Genpaku, Nakagawa Jun'an, Katsuragawa Hoshū and their colleagues studied anatomy by conducting dissections at Kozukappara.

Kozukappara began operation in 1651, and continued until the Meiji period. Executions were stopped in an attempt to convince Western powers to end the unequal treaties with Japan.
- source : wikipedia


Suzugamori keijoo 鈴ヶ森刑場 Suzugamori execution grounds 

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Note: The remains of the Execution Ground lie in a pleasant suburban area between Shinagawa in Tokyo Prefecture and Kawasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture, which are Stations #1 and 2 respectively (from Nihombashi in Tokyo) on the Old Tokaido Highway.

This is just a little street corner near a highway and Shinagawa Aquarium--but heavy with atmosphere. It commemorates Edo's former execution ground, but all that's left are some statues and grave stones, some of which also came from Daikyouji Temple. My friend and translator Naoko told me that rents in the area tend to be cheaper--to entice people to move here despite their fear of ghosts. The site contains signs of active reverence--live flower offerings, etc.
- source and more photos : thetempleguy.com/akimeguri

- - - More in the WIKIPEDIA !


. Ekooin 回向院 Temple Ekoin, Eko-In .
established in order to hold memorial services for those who died while in prison or who were executed.

. Kkubizuka 首塚 memorial stone pagodas and mounds for the beheaded .


source : kacco.kahoku.co.jp

Aosasa Fudo 青笹不動尊
at the execution ground near mount Aosasa in Sendai

. Fudō Myō-ō, Fudoo Myoo-Oo 不動明王 Fudo Myo-O
Acala Vidyârâja - Vidyaraja - Fudo Myoo .


- - - - - H A I K U and S E N R Y U - - - - -

rooya kara detari ittari suzume no ko

in and out
of prison they go ...
baby sparrows

Tr. David Lanoue

Or: "he goes.../ baby sparrow."
In my earlier translation, I began with "flying in and out of prison," but Shinji Ogawa thinks that the word "flying" spoils Issa's surprise. Someone is going in and out of prison, and we must wait until Issa's punch line to discover the identity of that someone: baby sparrows!
The little birds know nothing about human law and punishment. They fly easily back and forth between the carefully demarcated human realms of "prison" and "freedom." Such categories mean nothing to them.
David Lanoue

. Kobayashi Issa 小林一茶 in Edo .


- Tanka by Yoshida Shoin

夢路にも、かへらぬ関を 打ち越えて
今をかぎりと 渡る小瀬川

yumeji ni mo kaeranu seki o uchi koete
ima o kagiri to wataru ozegawa

Even in my dream,
Never shall I return to the Pass
That did I come over;
Now this is the very last
I cross the Ozegawa River.

A tanka poem of Yoshida Shoin

While being sent to a prison in Edo (present-day Tokyo) under guard, as one of the most dangerous insurgents of Choshu Domain, Yoshida Shoin composed a tanka poem in crossing the Ozegawa River, the provincial border between Aki(present-day Hiroshima Prefecture) and Suo(present-day Yamasguchi Prefecture). You will see the Monument inscribed with his tanka on the Ozegawa riverbank.

- - - - - Notes (by Hokuto 77):
(1) The Ozegawa River, rising in Mt. Onigashiro (鬼ヶ城山 ) in Hiroshima Prefecture, flows as the Hiroshima-Yamaguchi prefectural border. In the Edo Period(1603-1868), too, the river played the part of the border between Aki (安芸), present-day Hiroshima Prefecture) and Suo (周防, present-day Yamaguchi Prefecture) provinces.

(2) Seki (関) in the tanka means the Oze Pass, not a barrier station.

(3) Yoshida Shōin 吉田松陰 Yoshida Shoin
( 20.09.1830-21.11.1859)
was one of the most distinguished intellectuals in the closing days of the Tokugawa shogunate. He devoted to developing many Ishin Shishi who made an outstanding contribution to the Meiji Restoration. Born in Choshu Domain to a samurai family, at age five this child prodigy began to study tactics, at age eight he attended college, at age nine he taught in college, and at age ten he impressed the Mori daimyo family with a military lecture he had delivered. “---” When it was Yoshida's turn, he was composed - his executioner said he died a noble death. He was 29 years old.    
(From Wikipedia free encyclopedia)

* Shoin was one of the victims beheaded in the Ansei Purge (in 1858 and 1859), which was carried out
by Ii Naosuke (井伊直弼).

(4) Self-praise (by Hokuto77, 2010):
‘I’ is used three times in the short tanka poem, my intention is to stress his resignation, or readiness to die he cherished in producing the tanka poem, and ‘Now’ may sound redundant or predictable. In my private dictionary, ‘Now’ indicates that it can’t be helped. I feel sorry for offending your ears by three ‘Is and Now.’ 
- source : www.hokuoto77.com


- More vocabulary -

bakkin 罰金 penal fine

chōeki 懲役 imprisonment with labor

hansokukin 反則金 administrative fine for minor traffic violations
haren chizai 破廉恥罪 “infamous” crime
hogo kansatsu 保護観察 probation

jukeisha 受刑者 inmate, lit. “person receiving punishment”

kari shakuhō 仮釈放 parole
keibatsu 刑罰 punishment (keijibatsu 刑事罰)
keimusho 刑務所 prison
kei no genbatsuka 刑の厳罰化 harsher punishment
kinko 禁固 / 禁錮 imprisonment without labor

kōryū 拘留 short-term detention
kōryū 勾留 pretrial detention

kōsei hogo 更生保護 rehabilitation and protection
kōshukei 絞首刑 death by hanging
kyokkei 極刑 “ultimate punishment” (death penalty)
kyōsei shisetsu 矯正施設 correctional facility

muki chōeki 無期懲役 imprisonment with labor for an undefined term

ryūkei 流刑 Ryukei, punishment by exile

. seppuku 切腹 -- harakiri 腹切り ritual suicide .

shikei 死刑 death penalty
shikkō yūyo 執行猶予 suspension of a sentence
shūshinkei 終身刑 “punishment until the body is finished”

tsuichōkin 追徴金 financial penaltiy

zenka 前科 criminal record


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. hanzai 犯罪 crime and punishment - Glossary .

. Japanese Architecture - cultural keywords used in haiku .

. - Doing Business in Edo - 商売 - Introduction .

. senryu, senryū 川柳 Senryu poems in Edo .

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Gabi Greve said...

Honzaimokuchoo 本材木町 Honzaimokucho, Honzaimoku-cho district
本材木町処刑場跡 Honzaimokucho Keijo - execution ground
was relocated to Shibaguchi.

Gabi Greve said...

Daianrakuji Kannon 大安楽寺 Daianraku-Ji Kannon
新高野山 Shin-Koyazan 大安楽寺 Daianrakuji

中央区日本橋小伝馬町3-5 / Chuo ward, Nihonbashi, Kodenmacho
This temple is located on the site of the remains of the royashiki 牢屋敷 prison compound, where nobody wanted to live after the prison was relocated.
大倉喜八郎 Okura Kihachi (1837 - 1928) and 安田善次郎 Yasuda Zenjiro (1838 - 1921) donated the ground and the first letter of each name, (「大」 and 「安」) were used for the naming when it was built in 1882.

Gabi Greve said...

Punishment and Power in the Making of Modern Japan

English Edition by Daniel V. Botsman
The kinds of punishment used in a society have long been considered an important criterion in judging whether a society is civilized or barbaric, advanced or backward, modern or premodern. Focusing on Japan, and the dramatic revolution in punishments that occurred after the Meiji Restoration, Daniel Botsman asks how such distinctions have affected our understanding of the past and contributed, in turn, to the proliferation of new kinds of barbarity in the modern world.

While there is no denying the ferocity of many of the penal practices in use during the Tokugawa period (1600-1868), this book begins by showing that these formed part of a sophisticated system of order that did have its limits. Botsman then demonstrates that although significant innovations occurred later in the period, they did not fit smoothly into the "modernization" process. Instead, he argues, the Western powers forced a break with the past by using the specter of Oriental barbarism to justify their own aggressive expansion into East Asia. The ensuing changes were not simply imposed from outside, however. The Meiji regime soon realized that the modern prison could serve not only as a symbol of Japan's international progress but also as a powerful domestic tool. The first English-language study of the history of punishment in Japan, the book concludes by examining how modern ideas about progress and civilization shaped penal practices in Japan's own colonial empire.
at amazon com